Business Strategy · Startups

To what extent can big dev shops help you shape your idea?


August 2nd, 2019

My new co-founder (no contract signed yet) has suddenly showed frustration about us having to go through discussions about design, wire-framing, and fine-tuning ideas for our SaaS startup. We have not done any yet, I pretty much brought the idea and I wanted us to brainstorm these things, including market research.

His idea is that we should go to a big famous development shop (the ones that charge 20K+ for a website), that these guys will do the scoping with us, that we don't need anything other than the bare bone idea to start working with them.

What do you guys think? I personally feel that scoping with a big dev shop can help a lot but don't feel this is a substitute for careful research and fine tuning on our end.


David M

August 4th, 2019

Frustration so early on about doing work??? I would re-think who you are partnering with. Everything else is futile if that is wrong. Having been through similar type partners in the past, my experience and opinion would lead me to say adios and find a partner more willing to grind out work and evaluating being as lean as possible.

Pravin Uttarwar Serial Entrepreneur and CTO

August 3rd, 2019

I am CTO and Co-Founder of similar services firm with more than 12 years of experience. To be honest we do believe in wireframing stage along with doing market research, competitor analysis, IA, running it through beta users and then moving to graphic designs. We do follow same strategy for every client, its called Design Sprint, almost 4-6 weeks long process where every stakeholder is involved closely, even we many times ask clients to come to India for a week where we have whole team and spent whole week with us doing brainstorming, paper prototypes, sketches etc, other way is we send our Business Analyst for a week at client location and get the things done, so my point is that f2f discussion is very important to make sure you are clear on what you want and clear all gaps in this stage itself, if you move to dev stage without firm requirements even if you go to likes google or infosys, they cant m until things are clear on paper, without proper planning you will not only lose money but more importantly time is lost and someone else will win the race. This phase will also help you to take proposals from different firms with clear expectations and sprints/milestones defined, even when we do design sprint we only take that as a seperate small project and later client can take scope from others, so no strings attached, I would suggest to follow same strategy so you are not attached to single firm. You mentioned 20k as website budget, again without understanding kind of website you want, its features, scalability, security,technologies required etc its hard to estimate it out, so again design sprint will help you a lot. As we are working with startups and part of Startupgrind community, we are closely working with accelerators so that startups get benefits on cost savings, eg we have partnerships using that startups that we work with get one year free cloud and other benefits so that they dont need to worry on their infrastructure costs, let me know if you want to discuss this further, happy to connect and discuss, also can provide references of similar clients who did design sprint phase with us.

Juan Pereyra Technology Strategist, consultant for 14+ years for some of the best companies in the World

August 5th, 2019

TL;DR go do a design sprint, as others suggested. Make sure you make things tangible, fast!

Now, a big shop will help you a lot, if you have experience outsourcing work. I’ve worked for a major software firm for over 13+ years and I‘ve seen many, many projects fail before they start due to slim budgets, overinflated expectations and inexperienced leaders.

Early-stage prototyping can be effectively done hiring individuals as needed. Conserve your budget, make ideas tangible, put them in front of customers, iterate

Andrii Morozevych CTO, Smartphone App Dev:

August 2nd, 2019

There are no golden bullet decisions, what you should do. I think to do some basic wireframes/block schemes, could help you to structure your ideas, as any visuals help to think about what you want to get from it. So it is more like a block scheme of what you want to achieve, rather than actual screens.

And as long as you keep in mind, that this is the only purpose of it, it is fine, as of course, you need a team of actual experts that would be able to take it too a completely different level. A good studio will help you to understand the advantages and limitations of the technologies and wouldn't price an entire project, until the actual wireframing and detail technical requirements is done (and of course they would charge for it - usually at the special rate).

Adam Thompson Serial Entrepreneur and Solving some of the most complex Tech and Business Problems!!

August 8th, 2019

Ideally Scoping is two-way Effort. You want to involved throughout the Scoping Process for two reasons :

1) When you launch the product and look for Seed Investors, you would find a hard time in VC' discussion.

2) Great things are always between the lines, it would be quite hard to do something minutely unique if one has not been completely involved in the process.

A good approach might be to work with an Offshore Scoping Team and get involved in the day to day process. You would save money and Two brains are always better.

Jag Virk Founder and CEO journeyx

Last updated on August 7th, 2019

You'll be throwing money down the toilet. Your bare bone idea will help make the agency make money not you. The best people that will help shape your ideas are actually your potential customers. Go find and speak to them, then draw it up on paper. An agency will charge you an arm amdand a leg and youllyou'll learn nothing from it.

Paul Garcia marketing exec & business advisor

August 7th, 2019

I agree whole-heartedly with @David M. Your partner should not be someone unwilling to roll up their sleeves. There is no better kind of work than the research and planning you do as founders all by yourselves. By all means, you can certainly engage a design firm later to help you REFINE your idea, but never to come up with your idea or map it out for you. That's not only lazy, but impossible to expect an outsider to know the intimate nuances of your industry, market, customers, and vision.

All outsourced work is in some way diminished in its possible effect simply because the outsiders don't have a stake in the outcome and don't live and breathe the business. Generally you can expect that it will cost you around 1/3 the cost to develop something yourself as to hire it out. And you will have people in-house working 100% on just your thing, instead of outside working on your thing maybe 30% of their time.

You should not even consider talking to an outside dev shop until AFTER you have completed your marketing strategy, tested your assumptions, and ascertained your product-market fit. While you could hire a coach to walk you through those steps, it is critically valuable to complete those steps yourselves. Not only will it teach you more about your business, information you can use forever going forward, it will also stop you from throwing good money at (most) bad ideas.